Amsterdam-based Kumasi Drinks is raising seed money to develop its sustainable soft drinks
Based in Amsterdam Kumasi Drinksa soft drink company that prevents food waste and fights poverty, announced Thursday that it has raised an undisclosed amount in a seed funding round.
Unknown group founders Edward de Jager and Hendrik Halbe invested in the Dutch startup through Impact Tech Ventures, an investment fund that received the seed capital facility from the Dutch Business Agencyof Rijksdienst voor Ondernemend Nederland (RvO). RvO is a government agency that operates under the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy.
Kumasi Drinks co-founder Lars Gierveld says, “Unknown Group believes in our ability to change the status quo of the cocoa industry. We are thrilled to have a professional investor with global reach and a focus on impact measurement like Unknown join the Kumasi movement!
How was Kumasi born?
Kumasi Drinks was founded in 2021 by Lars Gierveld, Linda Klunder and Rogier Power, although the idea was born in 2018 when Gierveld, a television host, traveled to the Ashanti region of Ghana to film a report on the cocoa trade.
There, he found himself confronted with the fact that the majority of farmers are totally dependent on the sale of cocoa and live in poverty. A small number of companies control the majority of the market and set the rules for the industry. The multiple levels of intermediaries in the supply chain ensure that farmers only receive a small portion of their income.
Kumasi Drinks was founded with the intention of changing this situation. Together with a group of farmers, they started harvesting cocoa fruit juice near Kumasi (which, by the way, is the capital of the Ashanti region of Ghana).
The company’s drinks went on sale in January 2021. And in less than two years, Kumasi Drinks has expanded to more than 1,000 outlets in the Netherlands, Germany, France, Italy and Spain.
Kumasi has also entered into agreements with the main grocery chain, Albert Heijn, and with the department stores, Hema, in the Netherlands, to offer their selection of drinks on their shelves.
Co-founder Rogier Powers says, “Retailers today are trying to make their catalog more in line with the values and mindset of their customers. Since our launch, we have been regularly contacted by merchants who wish to put on the shelves a drink that is good for you and good for the planet.
Kumasi beverages – less food waste, less revenue waste
The cocoa industry is only interested in the seeds of the cocoa plant (cocoa beans), which are used to make chocolate. It turns out that the juicy fruit pulp surrounding the cocoa bean is healthy and extraordinarily tasty. It does not taste like cocoa or chocolate but rather a kind of mixture of lychee, mango and white peach.
Kumasi says it is developing a variety of 100% natural, nutritious and delicious drinks from the extra cocoa juice. The soft drink that Kumasi makes comes in two variants: the thirst-quenching Sappi and the tantalizing Gassi. Both consist of juice and water only, with no additives. The juice contains magnesium, vitamin B1, potassium and zinc.
The company buys its juice with its technical partner in Ghana directly from the farmers. This way, cocoa farmers receive immediate additional income – up to 30% more per kg – from the sale of pulp and juice by-products from their cocoa production process that they would typically have thrown away. .
Use of capital
Kumasi Drinks says it will use the funds to expand internationally and develop more products that are true to Kumasi’s philosophy. “We’re exploding with ideas on how we can help more farmers and expand our product line,” says co-founder Rogier Power.
Kumasi will also use the funds to set up a specialty drinks bar at Unknown Group’s new innovation hub, Titaan, at Binckhorst in The Hague. Open in early 2023, Titan will be a 13,000 m² innovation hub to host startups and scale-ups creating a better world.
Watch our interview with Paul Down, Head of Sales at Intigriti.